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Replacing outer door handle

Joined
Feb 13, 2003
Messages
946
Location
San Jose, CA
Corvette
1972 LT-1/Air coupe w/all options
Is there a worse task anywhere else on the car? Replacing the exterior door handle is crazy!

That damn thing has to be the most inaccessible tricky little POS on the entire car.

How do you even get to the bolts? Once you do, how do you get the latch armature disengaged and reengaged?

How do you keep from dropping anything and everything into the door never to be seen (but forever to be heard) again?!

Where can I find the guy who came up with this little bit of torture so I can share some "thoughts" with him?

And while I'm at it, does anyone have any hints for a desperate (and frustrated) noob?

Thanks,
 

Mac

Well-known member
Administrator
Joined
Feb 13, 2003
Messages
5,475
Location
Ottawa, Canuckistan
Corvette
1973 coupe L82 (gone as casualty of divorce)
The "best" answer is GM never figured we'd still be driving these things 30 years later!!

While you're in there, remember to lube your window mechanisms... :)

-Mac
 

Artsvette73

Well-known member
Joined
Jan 24, 2004
Messages
174
Location
New Jersey
Corvette
1973 Silver coupe, 1977 L48
Imagine the guy on the assembly line doing it everyday. Find him and he should have together in no time. Do you have the glass out?
 

bossvette

Gone but not forgotten
Joined
May 19, 2003
Messages
3,233
Location
West Unity Ohio
Corvette
1968 1997
Erik
I have found that sometimes taking more stuff off gives you better access to what you want to work on. The handles were most likely the first thing assembled in the door, then the window mechanism. They had to get it in there somehow. ;) I havent had to replace the door handles yet but have done the power windows on mine. you need to hold the window in the up position some say use tape, but I never had much luck with tape. I use two blocks of wood and a C clamp, just dont tighten it so tight you break the glass :L
then the window mechanism can be removed thru the access hole which should give you better access to the door handle.
 
Joined
Feb 13, 2003
Messages
946
Location
San Jose, CA
Corvette
1972 LT-1/Air coupe w/all options
Well, here's what I found out:

1. Magnetic kids toys will work to fetch lost nuts and spring clips from the inside of the door.
2. Tie a string to the splash-guard once it's unscrewed. Why? Because it's not magnetic!
3. GM did not intend for human hands to work on the doors of C3 Corvettes. Period.
4. There simply isn't a tool on the planet that will allow you to re-thread the outer nut on the outer bolt besides human hands (see #3.)
5. In order to release the latch armature from the door handle you absolutely have to unscrew the door latch from the door frame. Only when it's floating freely within the door can you manipulate the armature off of the door handle.
6. Replacement parts (even from GM) aren't exactly like the originals. You may have to adjust the armature (it screws in and out) to get the door to work. In order to do this you have to take the entire mechanism apart of course.

In any case, I've managed to get the outer door handle installed on my passenger side and it even works properly. The only issue is that I simply can't get the nuts back on. I'm pretty sure my 5 year olds hands are too big to get in there and do that and I know I can't talk the 3 year old through it. My hands barely got the damn things off and I simply don't have the room to turn them to catch the threads. I also don't own tools capable of getting in there to do it nor do Snap-On or Sears and I'm getting sick and tired of dropping the nut, fishing it out and trying again only to drop the nut and fish it out again.

I think I've calmed down enough to give it another go.

The worst part is that I have to do the damn driver's side next! :(
 
Joined
Feb 13, 2003
Messages
946
Location
San Jose, CA
Corvette
1972 LT-1/Air coupe w/all options
What a day.

Well, the door handles are both back on, thanks to my wife and her small hands. Even she had a hard time getting everything together but in the end she succeeded where I simply could not.

Once we finished with the door handles and I got the door panels back on the car I polished the car and all of the brightwork and got the first coat of wax on her.

Between tomorrow and Monday I've got tons more to do, but we're getting closer to the Santa Clara Corvettes Corvette Spectacular next Sunday and my car might actually be presentable when I go. :D
 

Mac

Well-known member
Administrator
Joined
Feb 13, 2003
Messages
5,475
Location
Ottawa, Canuckistan
Corvette
1973 coupe L82 (gone as casualty of divorce)
You're sounding happier already. Glad to have your Vette back, I guess?

-Mac
 

bossvette

Gone but not forgotten
Joined
May 19, 2003
Messages
3,233
Location
West Unity Ohio
Corvette
1968 1997
be sure to take some pictures so we can see the results Erik, good luck at the show.
 

chuck

Well-known member
Joined
Feb 7, 2001
Messages
193
Location
Tallmadge,Ohio
Corvette
1977 Dark Red Coupe/Buckskin 04 Spiral Gray/Gray
Remove the door latch and it's not a problem getting to the nuts.
 

Dad

Well-known member
Joined
Nov 18, 2001
Messages
611
Location
West Unity OH
Corvette
15Gray/8sp 72Blk/Blk4Spd 64Red/Red/Wht4spd
The only way!!!

Remove the door latch and it's not a problem getting to the nuts.

Chuck has the answer and then you can flush out all the crap and grease in the latch mechanism while they are out. The time you save will cover the removal and cleaning of the latch. Did my '72 this year and the first one took a day and the second took just over 2 hours. Had to shut the door on the garage so the neighbors couldn't hear me.
 

Mac

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Administrator
Joined
Feb 13, 2003
Messages
5,475
Location
Ottawa, Canuckistan
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1973 coupe L82 (gone as casualty of divorce)
Remove the door latch and it's not a problem getting to the nuts.
That's good to know. Maybe too late for Erik but I haven't done mine yet. My hands are bigger than Erik's so I wasn't looking forward to it. Maybe there is hope... :D

-Mac
 
Joined
Feb 13, 2003
Messages
946
Location
San Jose, CA
Corvette
1972 LT-1/Air coupe w/all options
You're sounding happier already. Glad to have your Vette back, I guess?

Absolutely! :D

be sure to take some pictures so we can see the results Erik, good luck at the show.

Yeah, I'm still working on the car (did the wheels and tires today along with some of the interior and engine bay. The latter is just not going to look good unless I pull the motor and do some real work, but for now at least the chrome shines and the worst of the gunk is gone.

Remove the door latch and it's not a problem getting to the nuts.

It didn't look like that would be the case, but then again maybe with all of the stuff out of there i'd have space. If there's ever a next time. . .
 

TAZ 76

Active member
Joined
Jun 25, 2006
Messages
31
Location
Montana
Corvette
1981 forever orange
I installed actuators (poppers) to the latch to unlatch the door, and there is a spring plunger to push the door open from the latch. It works from a remote. There is also a hidden switch if the remote battery goes dead. Also added cables from the car's battery to the outside rear of the car just in case the car's batt goes dead. I removed all of the lock actuators, linkages, ect. from both doors, because there is no need to ever lock it again (just close the door :)
 

bossvette

Gone but not forgotten
Joined
May 19, 2003
Messages
3,233
Location
West Unity Ohio
Corvette
1968 1997
Looks like a page from the customs/street rodders book, I like it. The first time I saw a shaved door was when I was 16 it was on a 50 merc and the "hidden switch" was a wire under the rocker panel ;)
 

TAZ 76

Active member
Joined
Jun 25, 2006
Messages
31
Location
Montana
Corvette
1981 forever orange
I wish I could get a wire or mechanical backup for the poppers, but my backup switch is just a button fed directly from battery to the popper. If both poppers fail at once I'm in trouble. (luckily I almost never roll the windows up).
 

Rookie Vette owner

Well-known member
Joined
Oct 31, 2003
Messages
130
Location
Upper state S.C.
Corvette
1973 Blue Coupe
First! Yep this is an old post, and boy am I glad it was here. A special thanks to Eric & Chuck who went down this path a few years back. By unbolting the latch assembly and raising it and the door handle, you can get at the clip on the end of the rod and you can get the door handle out relatively easy
 

Rookie Vette owner

Well-known member
Joined
Oct 31, 2003
Messages
130
Location
Upper state S.C.
Corvette
1973 Blue Coupe
Cont. Sorry glitch!! hit wrong button and submitted too soon!

First! Yep this is an old post, and boy am I glad it was here. A special thanks to Eric & Chuck who went down this path a few years back. By unbolting the latch assembly and raising it and the door handle, you can get at the clip on the end of the rod (from the outside) and you can get the door handle out relatively easy. Then you can lower the latch and remove it through the lower access panel. Does anyone have a good suggestion for regreasing the latch mechanism after cleaning? Will spray Lithium grease be enough or should I apply a lithium paste as that appears to be what was already on it from the factory. Thanks again, and (even though I know it's going to cost me) I've got the wife standing by with the little hands when it's time to bolt it all back together.:eek:hnoes
 

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